Sent: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 9:56 AM
Subject: Follow-up on Student Forum on Diversity
It has been two weeks since the forum Diversity University: In Theory and In Practice took place. Organized by students, the forum reflected the fervent desire of many for a more inclusive campus culture and highlighted areas in which we had fallen short. I indicated then that we would deal with individual student complaints (this is happening) and—together with Vice Presidents Sonia Mañjon and Mike Whaley—develop a list of suggested priorities. There were a great many issues raised at the forum, most of which, it seems to us, fall into three areas. We propose that we focus on the following priorities:
1. Improving interactions between Public Safety and students, especially students from under-represented groups on campus. There is no question that racial profiling is completely inappropriate at our university. We will review current practices and build conditions for more positive relationships.
2. Increasing the scope and intensity of the Making Excellence Inclusive program on campus. We will aim at addressing those issues that prevent any group of students from having a full Wesleyan experience. There is no question that homophobia, sexism, racism and class prejudice undermine our mission. We will work with faculty and staff to ensure that our campus is as inclusive and equitable as possible.
3. Enhancing town-gown connections to increase opportunities for positive interactions between the campus and the city. There is no question that Wesleyan should work for the good of our neighborhood, city and region. We will partner with city officials and neighborhood groups to determine how we can be a positive force in our city.
Many of these issues and concerns are not new, and neither are efforts to address them. Members of our community have made sincere efforts in these areas over the years, for which we should all be grateful. We will build upon their efforts and rely upon their experience. We will ask for their recommitment, enlist others—together we will do more.
A Campus Climate Survey conducted at the beginning of next semester should be helpful in directing our efforts, but in the meantime we ask for your feedback on the three priorities above (and welcome any other suggestions you have). Please send your feedback to: firstname.lastname@example.org. As I indicated after the forum, your views will help us refine priorities and identify or create working groups to make progress on them. These groups will address issues that affect all areas of campus life—from admissions to graduation, from politics to social gatherings.
The powerful emotions and thoughtful observations of the forum should energize and shape specific steps to improve our campus culture. I am committed to helping us take these steps, and I know that many share that commitment.
I will give a report on the progress of the working groups just after spring break, and then we can schedule another forum to discuss what has (and has not) been accomplished. I don't expect that we will solve all the potent problems discussed at our forums, but I do believe that together we can build a more inclusive, caring and inspiring community.
Michael S. Roth